Pennsylvania Senate committee approves toll highway reform legislation

Months after the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reported nearly $105 million in uncollected fees since its conversion to all-electronic tollthe legislator takes measures to prevent this from happening again.

Monday, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a package of bills reforming the toll road toll system and financial reportlawmakers hope they will deter further losses and make using the road network more convenient for motorists.

“While the percentage of unpaid and uncollected tolls is not out of step with other states, the dollar amount of these missed collections – $104 million in fiscal year 2020-21 – is staggering,” said said Senator Marty Flynn, of Lackawanna County, the ranking Democratic panel and author of the legislation, said – noting an annual increase in toll fees.

The first proposal, which unanimously left the Republican-controlled committee, would restore a limited number of staffed lanes so motorists could pay fees in person and in cash. The legislation also lowers the threshold needed to trigger a record suspension from six unpaid tolls to four, and increases the statute of limitations from three years to five years to give toll highway officials more time to prosecute violators. .

For additional legislative scrutiny, Flynn’s bill would require the toll highway commission to submit an annual financial report to the General Assembly that outlines revenue and so-called toll leakage during the year. ‘Previous exercice.

The document would look like an internal report produced by the commission every year.

“The Legislature has an obligation to exercise oversight, and I think there is a clear need reflected in the amount of toll revenue that has not been collected,” Flynn said. “This legislation will both increase transparency and ensure accountability in this vital system.”

The panel also voted 11-3 to send the entire Senate a Flynn-drafted bill that would give drivers the ability to pay tolls with mobile apps, including PayPal, Venmo, Cash App and Zelle.

The tollway commission should establish a billing system to accept payments made with an app and issue a request for proposal to contract with a third-party vendor for app payments, Flynn said.

Lawmakers on the panel said they were concerned about potential issues with service charges and the possibility that mobile billing could eliminate the costs associated with sending bills to drivers who use the toll road.

The bill is now before the full Senate for consideration.

Efforts to reform the toll highway’s toll system and increase financial accountability come after nearly 11 million trips out of nearly 170 million from June 2020 to May 2021 generated no revenue for the commission of the toll road, according to an internal report. got by the Associated Press last year.

Motorists who do not use E-ZPass – an automated collection system – have almost a 50% chance of passing through the “pay-per-plate” camera billing system. With E-ZPass, the toll highway collects about 92% of trips. Revenues help pay for quarterly transit payments to the State Department of Transportation and the resulting debt service, which comes with a statutory funding obligation.

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